8:19:02 AM | 6/12/2016
The mountainous frontier province of Lao Cai has a lot of particularly comparative advantages to develop tourism economy as it lies on Kunming (Yunnan) - Lao Cai - Hanoi - Hai Phong - Quang Ninh Economic Corridor and has Sa Pa, a very popular tourist destination in Vietnam. Thus, the provincial government has defined tourism as an engine of economic growth. The Resolution of the 15th Provincial Party Congress stated that “trade, tourism and service are breakthrough stages. Accordingly, the province will focus on tapping cultural identity of 25 ethnic groups and see it as an important humanity resource for tourism development.
The policy on tourism development in combination with regional cultural preservation has been specified by the Provincial Party Committee with Scheme No. 8 on “Cultural and sport institution development and cultural identity conservation and promotion in Lao Cai” and Scheme No. 3 on “Tourism economic development in Lao Cai in 2016-2020.” Accordingly, Lao Cai will preserve ethnic cultural identity in support of tourism development, and develop tourism to conserve ethnic cultural identity. For example, the province will restore traditional cottage industries like wine production, festival organisation and market day opening and turn them into attractive tourist attractions.
Indeed, Lao Cai province has effectively developed tourism together with preserving and promoting cultural heritage values. Sa Pa, Lao Cai City, Bac Ha and Bao Yen are effectively tapping cultural heritage values for tourism development. Thus, tourist arrivals in Lao Cai province are on the rise. The province welcomed 2.01 million tourists and earned VND4,500 billion from tourism industry in 2015. It is estimated to welcome 2.5 million tourist arrivals in 2016 to provide a precondition for this important economic sector to boost up development and affirm its vital roles in local economic development.
The results of tourism development in combination with ethnic cultural identity preservation are reflected by the formation of commodity-based tourism villages like Ban Den, Ta Van, Cat Cat, Ta Phin - Sa Pa. This form of tourism development engages the entire community to develop tourism, generates jobs and increases incomes for local people, thus helping reduce local poverty. Trekking or biking to discover hill-tribe cultural villages along community-based tourist routes is a very attracting experience. Vietnam’s Sa Pa Route is named one of the most trails in the world by Lonely Planet. This is an ideal choice for tourists seeking to have a light daytime walk. Sa Pa - Lao Chai - Ta Van - Ban Den - Thanh Phu and Sa Pa - Cat Cat - Sin Chai routes serve 200,000 foreign tourists a year who come to enjoy new experiences.
Lao Cai has also focused on tourism development in association with preserving spiritual and cultural heritages along the Red River. To date, the province has 27 cultural and historical monuments and landscapes (including 17 nationally classified monuments and landscapes). Thuong Temple and Bao Ha Temple have got restored and upgraded to become appealing spiritual tourism destinations where hundreds of thousands of pilgrims arrive every year. other cultural and historical monuments such as Sa Pa ancient rock and Hoang A Tuong Palace are popular to tourists.
Efforts to collect artefacts and preserve traditional festivals are also contributory to diversification of cultural tourism products in Lao Cai. Currently, the tourism sector has collected more than 300 artefacts, mainly costumes, tools and instruments of ethnic minorities to prepare for the launch of Lao Cai Museum. The province has managed to preserve and maintain six typical festivals like Gau Tao Festival of the Mong people, Go-to-field festival of the Tay people, Roong Pooc Festival of the Giay people, Buffalo-thanking Festival of the Bo Y people, Adult Recognition Festival of Dao people, Gat Tu Tu Festival of the black Ha Nhi people in Y Ty (Bat Xat district). Festivals are reproduced from ceremonial place, time and rite to participants to general tempting cultural tourism products. Annual Gau Tao Festival of the Mong people is attended by some 15,000 residents and visitors. Adult Recognition Rite of the Dao people, Gau Tao Festival of the Mong people and Then Festival of the Tay people have been recognised the national intangible cultural heritages by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.
In recent years, cultural values of upland market days and fair terraced uplands in Lao Cai province have been tapped to become typical tourism products by local businesses. Mountainous market days have become attractive destinations for foreign tourists. Famous market days include Muong Hum, Y Ty (Bat Xat district), Coc Ly, Bac Ha, Lung Phinh (Bac Ha district), Can Cau (Si Ma Cai district), Muong Khuong, Cao Son, Pha Long, Lung Khau Nhin (Muong Khuong district). Bac Ha market day is rated one of 10 most famous market days in Southeast Asia by the Serendib Magazine, an insight travel magazine.
Scenic values of terraced fields in Sa Pa and Bat Xat are really enchanting tourists with their beauty and special charm. Sa Pa terraced field, which is a nationally recognised landscape, is creating unique tourism products for Lao Cai and a stop on Sa Pa tours. This is voted one of seven most magnificent terraced fields in Asia and the world by the US-based Travel and Leisure Magazine.
In the past years, in mountainous communes in the province, the preservation and development of traditional handicraft villages have also been attached special importance. Many handicraft villages have successfully built their brand names and reputation on the market. Sa Pa and Bac Ha are home to many cottage industry villages where tourism is developed in combination with close preservation. With this approach, Lao Cai province has actively introduced and advertised handicraft products to tourists. Remarkably, brocade, a traditional handmade cloth, has been made into interesting souvenirs for tourists. Sa Pa district alone has 11 brocade embroidery and weaving villages in Ta Phin, San Sa Ho and Sa Pa communes with approximately 1,050 households engaged.
To tap and promote cultural values and preserve cultural values and develop tourism, Lao Cai province has organised a lot of cultural tourism events like Thuong Temple Festival, Bao Ha Temple Festival, Cloud Festival, Fansipan Climbing Tournament and Bac Ha Horse Racing. Cultural tourism events have been strongly communicated to locals and tourists far and wide.
MA Nguyen Dinh Dung
Deputy Director of Lao Cai Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism